The Role of the Sinuses
The sinuses have numerous functions, but their primary role is to create natural moisture of the nose to stave off unwanted irritants from entering the sinuses and respiratory system. Mucus catches allergens and harmful micro-organisms that would otherwise infiltrate the body, and the openings in the sinuses promote the outflow of the particulates. Because the sinuses are hollow, they also minimize the weight of the skull and add sound quality to each individual’s voice.
Each of the sinuses are lined with mucosa (or mucus membranes), which is the soft tissue that is also found inside the mouth – the cheeks, lips, and other areas. In the same way that other mucus membranes are prone to infection in other areas of the body, the sinuses are no different. The mucosa contains cilia, or tiny hairs that work to trap foreign materials. The sinuses can be thought of an extension of the nose in this role.
Understanding Sinus Pain
The frontal sinuses are located above the eyes in the forehead region, while the ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses are located lower on the face, around the nasal bridge. The maxillary sinuses are found near the cheeks. Each sinus cavity is located behind the facial bones, and is only accessible through the nostrils.
Patients may be able to explain the specific pain to their ENT (ear, nose, and throat), which can assist in diagnosing which sinus is inflamed. By pressing on the forehead between the brows, massaging the nasal bridge, or applying force to the cheeks, an uncomfortable or painful sensation can pinpoint irritation. There are numerous other techniques for determining infection of the cavities, including a CT scan or endoscopic discovery.
Healthy sinuses drain properly, and only remain moist enough to perform their function. When the openings of the sinus cavities become irritated, they may swell and prevent the bacteria-containing mucus from exiting the sinuses out the nose, or down the back of the throat and into the stomach. The warm, wet environment creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to a sinus infection (acute sinusitis). In those who have chronic sinus infections, this happens in a continuous cycle, often even after treatment (chronic sinusitis or chronic rhinosinusitis).
Sinus issues can also be caused by allergens that enter through the nose, causing allergy symptoms, such as excess mucus production and sneezing (allergic rhinitis). In other types of sinus problems, the anatomy of the nose is abnormal, leading to function and drainage issues. One of the most common conditions is a crooked nasal septum, which unevenly divides the two nasal passages (deviated septum). Another issue is growths that form in the nasal cavity as a response to allergies or repeating infections o the sinus cavities (nasal polyps).
Headaches can be a debilitating condition. While they are not typically caused by a literal pain of the brain, they are often the result of the muscles, blood vessels, and nerves of the sufferer’s head and neck. Sinus headaches are a unique condition caused by the inflammation of the hollow cavities found inside a person’s face, the sinuses, which can become blocked following a viral infection, bacterial infection, or untreated allergies.
Within the face is a network of nerves, which serves a vital purpose. The nerves transmit information to the brain, including the instance of pain, which may be close to the face and brain, signaling the need for attention or protection. Because these nerves run around in and around the sinus cavities, the swelling of the sinuses can place pressure on these nerves, creating facial pain. This discomfort informs the person that his or her sinuses are not functioning properly.
Treating Sinus Pain
In order to treat the root cause of sinus pain, those experiencing this issue should seek treatment to eliminate the cause of swollen, clogged sinuses. A well-known ENT and facial plastic surgeon, Ran Y. Rubinstein, MD of the Hudson Valley Sinus Center as well as Laser & Cosmetic Surgery Specialists, PC, has been treating patients of New York for almost two decades. The doctor’s expertise in facial anatomy and irregularities that affect a patient’s health have enabled the specialist to improve the quality of life for sinus sufferers.
Doctor Rubinstein was the first doctor to bring balloon sinuplasty to the Hudson Valley area nearly a decade ago. This minimally invasive procedure is performed through the nasal passages, where a deflated balloon is inserted into the opening of the sinus cavities, and then expanded. This widens the opening of the sinuses to promote better flow as swelling and the buildup of scar tissue can shrink this canal. The sinus cavities are also flushed with a solution to provide a thorough cleansing of the areas to rid them of bacteria and excess mucus.
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
While traditional sinus surgeries have been performed through an incision in the mouth and a major operation, endoscopic sinus surgery is completed through the nasal passages. A small camera attached to a light (endoscope) guides Dr. Rubinstein to blocked sinuses. This allows him to manually eliminate the blockage through fine surgical instruments. While balloon dilation is effective for many patients, in cases where nasal polyps and scar tissue prevent normal drainage, the abnormalities may need to be cut away during this more extensive procedure.
Numerous other options exist, and can be tailored to the patient’s specific needs.
About the Doctor
Doctor Rubinstein has been a fixture in the world of Hudson Valley medicine for sixteen years. The doctor is an expert in minimally invasive cosmetic and nasal and sinus treatments. The doctor integrates his medical abilities and artistic flair to provide patients with improved features, often in both their role and aesthetics. Doctor Rubinstein is double board certified through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, is a member of the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery, and is an Assistant Professor at New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
Visit his websites below:
The Hudson Valley Sinus Center – focusing on patient sinus and nasal disorders, as well as treatment plans
Laser & Cosmetic Surgery Specialists, PC – the doctor’s cosmetic practice, dedicated to patient aesthetics